Tareq Rajab Museum


     Costumes and textiles 


    The Tareq Rajab Museum has one of the  largest  collections of costumes, embroideries and weavings from the Arab / Islamic world.

    Over 4,000 pieces consist of mainly Palestinian, Syrian, Turkish and Saudi Arabian, other areas of interest comprise from the Ottoman Empire, India, Yemen, Iran, Turkoman, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

     The Museum has over the past fifty years concentrated mainly on Arab / Islamic costumes and textiles; however there is a small but beautiful collection of Chinese mainly 19th Century costumes and embroideries, and a few rare examples from 17th century.   


    Saudi Arabia –  early 20th c

    This silk Kaftan is embroidered in silver and gold metal thread and would have been worn by town ladies. The dress is said to have been presented to an English man when he left Saudi Arabia. The silk gusset under the arm is a feature often to be seen on an Arab dress.




     Sukhne, Syria 

     The small village of Sukhne with only its few thousand inhabitants originally came from the north of Syria.

    Sukhne meaning “hot springs”   was a thriving agricultural village with plenty of water underground.

    The ladies were very skilled and could embroider their patterns straight onto the silk of satin which was the material preferred for their coats and dresses.

    However, some more complicated patterns were first printed onto hessian and then lightly sewn to the dress. Once the dress was finished the hessian was removed.

    The ladies were very proud of their work, it was important socially to show off their skill to the other villagers


    Palestine - early 20thc  

    This wedding dress is unusual in that it was made by a lady from Gaza who was marrying a man from Hebron.

    The lady used indigo dyed Gaza material with purple and green lines down it. The sleeves which are worked in yellow and green silk were embroided in honour of her husband as this type of work (cross stitch) was used in Hebron. The chest piece (Qabbeh) is also more typical of Hebron than of Gaza. The dress was given by the woman’s daughter.


    Right & extreme left: Thob ‘ob from the town of Salt and the Abu Alenda

    Middle: Al Adwan of Jordan

    These beautiful long costumes (at least 320cm, with sleeves 212cm) were supposed to be as long as the sitting room of the woman’s house. The slack is drawn over the hand woven belt and allowed to fall as a double skirt. The large sleeves were placed over the head and held in place by an ‘asba’ or bandeau of specially woven silk.


    Kaulan Yemen early 20th C

    This indigo dress probably comes from the village of Kaulan in the Yemen. The embroidery depicts the tree of life up side down, drawing strength from heaven and bestowing that strength on earth. Like so many Arab costumes, the dress should be worn with trousers.




     Bait Dajan Palestine early 19th C

     (A coat dress, jillaya from bait Dajan, Palestine.)

    This indigo – dyed dress was worn by young women after their wedding, it would have been worn when they went out to the well for water for the first time as a married women.








Tareq Rajab Museum

PO Box 6156 Hawelli, Kuwait

Tel: 25317358 / Fax: 25339063

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